A pastor from South Carolina is encouraging Christians to think twice before participating in the Color Run and Run or Dye events. Though the events may seem harmless, the pastor warns that they are rooted in the Hindu holiday Holi.
"While I have no problem with celebrations which allow any religion to freely practice theirs, I just want to be clear, that this isn't just a fun day, it's a relgious (sic) holiday," Pastor Trey Rhodes of Difference Church in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., wrote in his blog. "It's celebrated by the followers of Vishnu to honor the son of their king of demons, Hiranyakashipu."
The Holi celebration is observed in most countries with large Hindu populations, including India and Nepal. The celebration has historical significance both in Hindu folklore and culture, both reflecting the prevalence of good over evil and also serving as a time to forget and forgive past conflicts. During the celebration, participants throw powdered cornstarch dye on each other, causing them to be covered in a myriad of color by the end of the celebration.
The celebration has been appropriated in the U.S. through The Color Run and Run or Dye events, during which participants sign up for a 5K event. They run the event wearing white clothing, and pelt each other with various colors of dyed cornstarch so by the end of the run, they exhibit rainbow colors of pink, yellow, red, blue, green and orange.
Pastor Rhodes said he was initially intrigued by the Run or Dye event and thought it looked like a "great time." But after looking into it more he found out its roots were in the springtime celebration called Holi.
"[B]efore participating in any festival, no matter how fun it looks, I have once again been reminded of the importance of checking things out," he wrote. "As Christ followers, we should be vigilant in our understanding of what we choose to be involved in."
Additionally, Rhodes noted that Christians should be wary of the events as they are tied to a religion that practices division and caste systems.
Rhodes pointed out on his blog that the celebration marks the only time during the year when the Hindu culture's lowest caste, the untouchables, may freely be in the presence of the highest caste, the Brahmans, without suffering repercussions.
"Huh? One time a year? That's a far cry from the words of Paul who wrote clearly that we are to have no divisions," Rhodes stated. "While Holi celebrates one day a year of love for everyone, Christ followers, in distinct contrast to a caste system which divides, live a life of love that changes everything about us as well as how we daily respond to those around us."
"So, next time you want to take part in something that makes you feel better about yourself, think about how much God loves you. It is because of His love that we can now love one another. That is reason to celebrate!"